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We Are Flying Solo

September 6, 2015

The Day After: Shock & Awe

Making Advanced 17A look easy
Saturday was packed full of things both wonderful &, er, somewhat less so.

Warning: many words follow, take your pee break now!! 

*Photos can be clicked to embiggen. No, I have not mastered the 'selfie' & don't know why I appear compelled to hold phone 20' in the air*

Definitely not boring, a beautiful day for Preliminary/Intermediate/Advanced Cross-Country at Five Points Horse Trials, but I would've been ok with "slightly less eventful."  (pun not intended)

I'm going to bet that quite a few folks would agree on the latter!

TD Bobby Stevenson briefs us
Volunteering is ALWAYS educational.  I encourage everyone to never miss an opportunity to watch, listen & learn from a unique type of immersion you won't find anywhere else!  When 150 riders attempt to answer the same jumping question(s) right in front of you, it's an invaluable way to see what works & what doesn't.

Although we always hope the "doesn't work" part is a simple run-out or refusal.

What Happened?!

Horses insist on being horses though, & no matter where, how well-prepared, well-designed, or even what discipline, for lack of a more concise summation, "shit happens."

If you were following online through our feed or Event Entries great scoring service, you already know that BFF & I had a busy morning jump judging at I fences 17 & 18A/B, a challenging accuracy & planning question on the Intermediate course: 

I intend a follow-up post including the many fantastic rides we saw & a breakdown of our fences for each level.  So I'm not going to delve into much detail here, but I want to share some of the parts that unfailingly remind me why I love eventing:  the people.

Gratitude Due

They need this shirt!!
THANK YOU - to the medical team.  Nothing personal, but I generally dislike meeting you, especially so many of you, because that means gravity was not very nice to someone.

However, (& I'm still sleuthing out the department to name) all of you were calmly expedient, compassionate, on your A-game, & took over rider care like a well-oiled machine.  I know first-hand that when you're the person on the ground, hearing kindness & confidence from your caregivers means everything.

JJ, why do I always look rabid?
THANK YOU - JJ, I can't say it enough.  I know some of you out there have been lucky enough to work with radio control queen, JJ Johnson, as well, so you can corroborate that there is NO ONE you'd rather have on the headset when there may be 4-5 horses on course at 2-minute start intervals.

(Dutton, give me time to write down the previous rider's number before attempting to lap them!  Kidding - but whatever is in that man's cereal, I obviously need some!)

JJ is not only on the ball as Incident Commander, but she is a true master cat herder.  From sitting next to her, learning that side of the mike while working Endurance Day control at So8ths 3DE, I can promise you that it is no easy task keeping track of horses, questions, & runners over a network of volunteers ranging from veteran to "wait, so the horse has to go BETWEEN the flags?"

With 3-5 channels in front of her, JJ still keeps everyone safe, connects officials to volunteers to EMTs to scorers, every time.  And she can even do it with a smile.  Amazing isn't a big enough word.

Miriam hooks us up!
THANK YOU - to Miriam, wonderful volunteer coordinator.  That's one of, if not THE hardest jobs of all.  This was the first time I've met her, but positive energy, lots of helpful information beforehand, & plenty of delicious lunches & snacks (frozen chocolate bars, omg, I think I love you!!) -- it's what keeps that priceless commodity, our volunteer corps, coming back!

THANK YOU - of course, to all my fellow volunteers!!  It may not feel very glamourous to handle traffic crossings or write down rows of zeros (but we do love zeros) all day, but not a single event would exist without you.

CD Marc Donovan: "Don't wrinkle the shirt!"
It's cliche but true!  You don't even have to be a horse person, you don't have to have any experience.  If you can read & write & push buttons & have polite human interactions, you're 100% qualified.  And did I mention my chicken salad was amazing, THANK YOU, whoever was lunch lady!!

THANK YOU - to our favourite course builder (we can't help it, he's hilarious AND mad talented), Tyson Rementer, and his crew, always on hand for spares & repairs.

I'm convinced that Tyson shares the ability to teleport with Boyd Martin, who I swear materialized out of thin air when our first rider fell (Seriously, it's uncanny how many times Boyd is present when things diverge from the plan!  But THANK YOU, too, for never hesistating to jump in & help!).

I walk our Advanced line in possibly the most boring video ever:

I know I'm hyperfocused both when I ride & judge XC, but as I hit the ground next to the rider to keep her still & talking (screaming's ok too, you can't scream without breathing, just stay with me & scream in a manner that lets me know you're not going to pass out, that's better for both of us) until Medical arrived, all of a sudden, a very familiar Aussie voice chimed in right next to my ear:  "Just be still, they'll be here right away, you'll be okay."

Speak of the devil: Boyd & Welcome Shadow own it
As I help EMT's figure out how to get her on the board without aggravating a hellaciously painful hip too much, there's Tyson too -- I'm telling you:  teleportation superpowers.

There are, of course, MANY more, but I won't wear out your scroll button.

And How Are Our Riders?

Of the three falls at our I fence (A & P were nicely uneventful), Tiffini at 18B popped up quickly & her horse galloped back to stabling in fine form, so both appeared luckily none the worse for wear.
Happy photos: Doug Payne & Vandiver (5th, A) land with eyes on target
The other two did have the painful misfortune of their horse landing all or partly on top of them, but neither horse rotated & both horses hopped up sound & alert.  Both have my heartfelt empathy for also having the nasty luck of landing on their hips, which frankly, hurts beyond the ability of the best cursing.

And I'm so sorry I had to make you lay on what hurt you most until Medical arrived, I was hurting right along with you, but no spinal injuries on my watch if I can help it!
Photos AND horses need compression; Doug gets it done!
As I shared in a brief update for Eventing Nation, just because all of us as fellow riders worry for our brothers & sisters, both Dana & Sara were talking to me & the EMTs & the lovely foam in their vests & helmets did its job perfectly.

They left in excellent hands to get the good drugs & a thorough check alongside some hopefully peripheral repairs.  Hopefully both, along with Will Faudree, who suffered a solid whack at the fence after ours, will be on the mend quickly!!
And Vandiver jumps out of the Advanced line, textbook
And because I've been there, especially to Sara, who began asking me for details in the ambulance:  adrenaline makes us blank out for a reason.  To this day, I cannot remember what happened between the saddle & the ground on my Very Bad Day with Solo.  There's an email link at the top right of my page, don't hesitate to use it if you have questions after you're feeling better!

Bests to everyone today, have a great ride, & do your best to keep the steel side down!
Seriously, both these coolers were in the volunteer tent, we all should have chosen from the bottom one!


  1. Accidents aside, sounds like a great event! I wish I had something closer to me--I think Rocking Horse is the closest, and that's an overnight for sure. I would LOVE to volunteer (always have, but now especially for Seema)!

    1. <3 It is a fab event, was always my favourite fall outing when competing! Five Points always has a stiffer course than SoPines ot Longleaf HT because presumably it's near the end of your season, so the three make a neat series. I miss it so much! But loved being able to go help - with my work region being ~40 counties, I can't do the 2.5 hr drive to CHP nearly as often as I'd like to!!

  2. those riders must have been so grateful to have you there for those accidents! glad it was a good day aside from those falls, and hopefully everyone is back in good shape pronto!

    1. My hope is that they don't remember that part!! But I did want to make sure they knew their horses were ok, because you know that's what we ALL care most about when things go sideways (why are we all crazy??).

      Everyone made it safely to the "repair shop," and is healing, hopefully smoothly! If you didn't catch the EN update on our FB page, Will F. broke 2 vertebrae in his neck, but the phenomenal surgeons near me at Duke got him fixed up beautifully, and he'll be able to return to the field after some pasture rest.

      We got to see a lot of great riding out there, too, which I hope to be able to summarize soon - I still can't believe that not a single person missed any of the turns, especially the crazy one, I have mad respect!!

  3. I am glad that everyone will be okay, despite some serious accidents.

    1. They will & are on the mend already. :) No doubt getting the same looks from their drs as I did..."CAN YOU CRAZY HORSE PEOPLE PLEASE REST AFTER YOU HURT YOURSELVES??"